This post may seem like it’s coming about a month too later. We all announced our goals and resolutions for 2014 at the beginning of January. And while I didn’t post about my plans for 2014 beyond a list of races I thought I’d run, I made private list of some personal, professional, and athletic changes or goals I wanted to achieve this year. They range from the mundane but monthly – “use slow cooker twice a month” – to the big one-time event of “finish Ironman Wisconsin.” I know the rules of resolutions: write them down, break big goals into smaller steps, track your progress, all that. (My friend Carson wrote a pretty great post about resolutions earlier this year – you should go check it out.) I am not above writing “pick two slow cooker recipes to make this month” on the first of the month in my planner to avoid scrambling to pick recipes on the 28th.
Anyway, all that is to say that I got a little over-ambitious. I got swept up in the excitement of the new year and all the possibilities of what I could do and wanting to accomplish ALL OF THE GOALS. This is a running blog, so I’ll start here: I decided I’d run a marathon 3 weeks before my second half-Ironman. And now I’ve decided I won’t, and I’m writing it out in list format so we can all follow my decision process and so when I get the itch to sign up for a spring marathon I can come back and remember why I shouldn’t:
1. I wanted to run a marathon for my 26th birthday at the end of January. I’d run with my mom and we wouldn’t have a time goal. It would be a fun celebratory race.
2. I (wisely) decided I wouldn’t be ready for a marathon at the end of January/early February, so I started looking for later spring races, under the guise that this would still be a time-goal-free race, just to help me feel confident that I could run the distance before I dove into Ironman training. My last marathon was Boston, and I didn’t run nearly as well as I’d hoped.
3. I picked the April 13 Rock n Roll marathon in Raleigh because it was nearby and not too expensive. I decided I’d register after getting in a few long runs to make sure all my nagging injuries were behaving.
4. I started training, and I was running fast and relatively pain-free! I started thinking I could try to re-qualify for Boston at Raleigh, not because I particularly want to run Boston next year, but because I want to reestablish the fact that I can be a fast runner. At this point all potential for this to be a race free of time pressures went out the window. I would not be able to not treat this as a goal race. After all, it takes the same amount of time to train for a fast marathon as an easier one (I’m running 3 times a week with my other triathlon training, so that wouldn’t change). And I have no desire to be under-trained for a marathon this year.
5. I went to register for the race, only to find out it had sold out about an hour earlier. I considered joining a fundraising team, thinking that would add a new element to the experience and could be a lot of fun. I also took some time to reflect on the goals I’d set for myself this year and which were essential for 2014 and which could wait.
6. I missed one long run to go to Wisconsin for my birthday, getting in a long bike ride on the trainer the day before my trip instead. Then this weekend I faced the choice of using my few free hours for a long run or to study for the GMAT (blah blah business school yawn) which I need to do this spring. This was the make or break point – I skip one more long run and the fast marathon is out the window. I also realized I use marathon training as a way to put off working towards scarier goals because “I need to get my long run in” and I always let running come first (sign of addiction?).
7. Yesterday I went for a bike ride by myself outside for the first time since probably October, and it was the kick in the pants I needed to refocus my spring plans. I rode a 25 mile route that I rode pretty often last summer, and the hills were so much harder than they used to be. I spent a good bit of the ride contemplating how so much of Ironman is about cycling: 112 of the 140.6 miles are on the bike, which ends up being about half of the time the race takes (hopefully? Don’t quote me on that…)
8. Once Ironman training starts in April, it will take up a lot of my time and be a priority. Between now and then, the two most important things are that I 1) prepare for my May 4th half-Ironman as a lead-in to Ironman training, and 2) use my non-training time to work on some of the personal/professional goals that will likely get pushed to the back burner during Ironman training.
9. So, no spring marathon. I’m pretty terrified of the Wisconsin bike course, so my long weekend workouts need to focus on prepping for that. I’m trying balance the fact that it’s too early to focus completely on the Ironman and that because it is my primary athletic goal for the year, everything I do needs to serve a purpose that builds to September 7th. Hopefully emphasizing bike fitness this spring is the right decision. Being able to run a stand-alone marathon means very little if I can’t ride 112 miles of hills without something left in the tank at the end.
We all hear that it’s important to learn to say no to requests that either you don’t have time for or aren’t interested in. Like many people, I can take on too much because I convince myself I do have time for it if I were a little more efficient and I could be really interested in it. So I’m learning to say no to myself too. I can run a fast marathon in 2015, once I’ve finished the Ironman. 2014 will be the year I become an Ironman, but it will also be the year I apply to business school. And each of those goals is more important than finishing a marathon at any speed.
Now I just need to make sure I don’t find a million other ways to put off studying for the GMAT. My kitchen and bathroom could use some cleaning…